Reduced Shakespeare Company sparks laughter but may not be for all audiences

By: Alex Spindler

The renowned Reduced Shakespeare Company both delighted and enthralled in its newest “reduced” compilation show entitled “The Complete History of Comedy (abridged).”

This dynamic trio, comprised of actors Dominic Conti, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, presented at Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park an abridged history of the art of comedy as it was handed down through the ages.

A vaudevillian show by nature, the performance prominently showcased the group’s famous slapstick, fast-paced humor combining verbal and physical stunts with non-stop energy and charisma.

This nonsensical, hilarious farce delivered punch line after punch line. Each actor showed off his acting chops with multiple costume changes, accents, voices and stamina that encompassed the telling of all factions of comedy.

Starting from the ancient Chinese and Greek tragedies and leading up to contemporary comedians like Chris Rock and Tina Fey, the trio both mocked and paid homage to the line of comic influences that have since led up to modern notions of what is and isn’t funny.

That being said, the material seemed to connect well only with portions of the audience. There were many instances where lowbrow and even offensive jokes regarding political slander, human excrement and racial stereotypes did not beget a pleasant reaction.

Despite all attempts to disclaim its opinions regarding race, religion and sexual orientation,the group’s more controversial material simply did not land well and made for awkward moments of silence.

Needless to say, such jokes led to some disdain by audience members – a miscalculated stroke of comedy for what appeared to be sensitive ears.

However, the group recovered well and utilized such methods as old-style Nickelodeon film and classic pie-throwing gags to lighten the mood.

The trio’s quick improvisational skills and audience interaction reclaimed the attention of even the most dissenting theatre-goer.

Even with the dull, controversial segments of the show, the 90-minute production still garnered a great reception and made for a satisfying night at the theatre.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s production of “The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)” will run until Dec. 29 at the Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre in Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park.


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